Amidst all restoration and relief work, Christmas came early in Iloilo as CHC’s disaster relief Team 5 organized a Christmas carnival for celebrate the season of joy, love and hope with the people.
In the wake of Typhoon Yolanda on Nov. 8 2013, the Visayas region in the Philippines had been greatly affected, leaving Iloilo, Philippines, in a state of calamity. Several teams from CHC had been deployed to help in various afflicted areas. The fifth City Harvest Medical Disaster Relief team was in Iloilo—in particular, in Batad, a small coastal town in the north—from Dec. 5 to 9.
In order to provide as much help to as many people as possible, medical relief work was carried out in four different locations, and a total of 735 patients were given medical help over the span of four days. On the day of their arrival in Iloilo, the team provided medical assistance to 63 patients in the Municipal Town Hall.
On Dec. 6, the team served 415 patients in Calpiz. The next day, the team organized a mobile clinic and helped 87 patients. On the final day, Dec. 9, they helped 170 patients in Calangang. Dec. 8 was Sunday, and the team spent the day ministering at two churches, King of Glory Church and Estancia Christian Centre.
The highlight of the trip was the Christmas carnival that the team conducted to bring Christmas love, hope and cheer to Iloilo. On Dec. 8 and 9 the team also held a Christmas carnival at the municipal hall, complete with a “Santa Claus” present to entertain the children. The turnout was overwhelming on the first day of the carnival and many were turned away, and invited to return the following day. In total, the Christmas Carnival saw a total of 2,571 children and adults.
They may not be doctors and nurses, but Team 5’s non-medical personnel ministered to other needs of the people. Ang Jian Hao, 24, a trainee teacher, served as “Santa Claus” at the carnival. He spared no effort in carrying out activities with the children to cheer them up, and he even prayed for the sick.
“The many things that we take for granted mean a lot to the people of Iloilo,” he told City News. “Everyone can make a difference, regardless of background and expertise. I encourage people to sign up for the relief teams and allow God to work through them to be a messenger of His love and hope to the people in the Philippines, to encourage them as they rebuild their lives.
He added, “What touched me most was that I was able to bring joy to these people in the aftermath of the typhoon. Witnessing how their faces lit up and how they celebrated when they won prizes at the carnival, even how they left the carnival, waving to us with wide smiles on their faces—that really left an impression on me.”
Martin Wong Jien-Tin, 37, a business owner and director, who is the missions director of Heart of God Church, was also a volunteer in team 5. He played a part in setting up the municipal hall for the carnival, the clinics, and helped in dispensing medicine and distributing gifts. In addition, he preached at the King of Glory Church on the Sunday church service. He told City News, “I think CHC is doing a fantastic job working with local churches and giving relief aid to locals. It would be good in addition if people who have other skills and specialised knowledge about water sanitisation, building, engineering, logistics etc, could volunteer and join in the relief teams to help the locals rebuild their homes.”
Jere Chong, 28, a freelance action photographer who volunteered for team 5 also shared the same sentiments. “In the future, I believe they (the locals) would be much grateful if we could all chip in for some rebuilding project plans. The living conditions are really bad now. The people have neither proper shelter above their heads nor electricity to tide them through the night.”
Apart from providing medical relief, the team also brought along 500 pairs of slippers and about 200 bags and t-shirts for the locals. These items were kindly sponsored by SOULE, a social enterprise in Singapore.